Like a Dragon: Ishin!

released on Feb 21, 2023

A remake of Ryuu ga Gotoku Ishin!

Being remade from the ground up in UE4, this Yakuza spin-off returns us to feudal Japan in this remake for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows, and Steam!

Like a Dragon: Ishin! will be a remake of Ryuu ga Gotoku Ishin! from 22 February 2014. The original game only released domestically in Japan, but the remake will release globally in February 2023.

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An entertaining film, the facial animations in the in game engine were pretty unsettling but I enjoyed the story

Hilarious to me that right as the Yakuza games started to pop off outside of Japan they changed the name to Like a Dragon. This title is, at times, the most fun game I've played in the series. The combat is great, particularly the Wild Dancer tree. More games should let you use a sword and gun at the same time. But Ishin definitely feels like a PS2 game at its core, and I don't think the setting really works for me. It felt much more bland compared to the active city life of the modern day titles. And the pacing is downright glacial for quite a while, which is pretty par for the course in this series but it felt even slower this time. A fun experience but definitely lower in my series ranking.

So I'm not going to go indepth here as I did with my original review of Ishin since in my opinion I prefer the original 2014 version of Ishin, but I will say Ishin 2023 is not a bad remake, it's great, but it's not as good as the original Ishin.
The gameplay has retained fun aspect that the original has.
I'm happy to say that the card system did not ruin the game and actually I appreciate the integration of them now due to the fact they made boss fights last longer with bosses using their own unique abilities. One thing I really wish they fixed/ made easier to achieve was leveling up without so much grinding like the original, but I guess the remake retains it's grind nature.
The minigames are all here and prestine, I just wish they added an actual courtesan carabet club like from Kenzan for this new version, since this game has the best looking hostess character in a courtesan minigame.
I wish as well they added more than just 1 new song for the karaoke and had more characters singing like Nakagura Shinpachi (Seijima), Hijikata Toshizo (Mine), Katsura Kogoro (Akiyama), Saigo Kichinosuke (Ryuji), and even Ryoma's love interest Oryo.
Esthetically the game looks nicer and has cool new unique tracks with remixed names fitting the style of Ishin:
Soar (Ishin) - Fly (3)
Collision of Our Sword (Ishin) - Collision of Our Souls (5)
For My Sake (Ishin) - For Sake (Kiwami)
Pseudo Fight (Ishin) - Affected Fight (5)
It does suck that they didn't remake any more themes in the style of Ishin, it would have been awesome to hear remixes of:
Pledge of Demon
With Vengeance
The Battle for the Dream
They could've remixed them and renamed them to:
Vow of Devil
With Retaliation
The Clash of Hope
However the cast in my opinion is a major downgrade from the original, where here it clearly felt like RGG cared more about pandering to Yakuza 0 and Like a Dragon fans, by making certain characters from 0 and 7, replace characters from 3-5 that made sense for the roles there were originally casted as.
The downgrades in my opinons are:
Takechi Hanpeita: Originally was a unique character potrayed by Katsunori Takahashi, but now has been replaced with Hideo Nakano (Shibusawa) immediately eliminating the twist from original Ishin.
Todo Heisuke - Originally potrayed by Baba from Yakuza 5, now is potrayed by Zhao, which doesn't match at all, and it's worse with Zhao's stupid glasses. In my opinion it would've been better to have casted Someya from Yakuza 6 Song of Life as Todo Heisuke, since both Baba from 5, and Someya from 6 are as tragic as Heisuke, and would've made more sense for Someya to be the replacement actor instead of... Zhao.
Yamazaki Susumu - This one is just stupid, they replaced Hiroshi Kugihara with Joon-gi Han, even though being an intimating informant with Kugihara made more sense, but I guess we have to pander to female fans who like hot looking korean pyschopaths is the quota they have to fulfill now.
Kondo Isami - the head of the Shinsengumi was originally portrayed by Eiichiro Funakoshi which subverted expectations for the way he acts, and even if he's the head of the Shinsengumi, he's not that strong when Ryoma fights him, his appearance of being potrayed by Eiichiro Funakoshi subverted that expectation, now that he's been replaced by Koichi Adachi, you already know he's weak, and while Adachi in 7 is a great character, he doesn't fit with the character he's portraying in Ishin.
There are upgrades in the cast in my opinion:
Takeda Kanryusai - Originally played by Hiroshi Hayashi, he's now instead played by Yakuza 0's Hiroki Awano, in my opinion both actors worked for the character of Takeda, with both being vile in terms of personality, but Awano clearly loves being vile, while Hayashi doesn't realize he is. So in my opinion Awano was an upgrade.
Ito Kashitaro - Originally played Goh Hamazaki from Yakuza 3 and 4, he is now instead played by Daisaku Kuze From 0. In my honest opinion, either one can work because I think both being casted for this character doesn't make sense. In my opinion Daisuku Kuze should've been Takechi Hanpieta since his overall character in 0 matches more with Takechi than it does with Ito. Goh Hamazaki should've remained Ito if we're taking his overall character from Yakuza 3, but considering 4, it doesn't make sense. In my opinion Ito's recasted character should've been Hideo Nakano (Shibusawa) and Hitoshi Ozawa (Kuze) should've been Takechi.
Oryo - This one might be petty of me, but in original Ishin, Oryo isn't good looking. Instead here Oryo is potrayed by Yuki from Yakuza 0 and Kiwami 2's hostess club. Major upgrade and the chemistry with Ryoma/Kiryu is great.
The story still remains it's amazing story told, I'm happy that tracks from the original game are still within this remake, I'm especially happy for them keeping imo the best Yakuza song in the franchise, Assassination of Bodhisattva. I wish they kept the health bare systems from the original/Yakuza 0 because I feel the Red Health bare bosses now have limit the intimidation aspect of the bosses, however I do appreciate that they contrasted this by making boss fights longer, I do wish however they added more dynamic qtes.
Overall I still prefer the original Ishin, however I'm happy to say the card gameplay did not ruin the game and actually improve the gameplay, the cast of the game is a mixed bag, with severe downgrades, the worst being Takechi Hanpeita but also good upgrades, especially Oryo being a great upgrade.
Overall I'm happy with this official Western port of Ishin, I hope however modders for the steam version of the game add some of the original cast as mods, but with options as really the only character who I'm happy got replaced was original Oryo from Ishin (2014), as the 2023 version is much cuter.
I highly recommend Ishin 2023 without the perspective of the original, but if you've played the original, I also recommend this version just so you can compare and later see which one you actually prefer. I actually thought halfway through that this version was actually better, so they did something right, but I do have that bit of bias towards the original.
Still I highly recommend Ishin 2023, I hope one day RGG studios remakes Kenzan, Kurohyou 1 and 2.

This review contains spoilers

I liked when the villain said that he thinks allying with fucking Britain will get rid of Japan's class issues.